Books & Literature

Book Review: Wild Bush Days, by Penny Harrison, illustrated by Virginia Gray

PICTURE BOOK: Told through the eyes of two young, modern-day explorers who go looking for the bushranger’s cave, Wild Bush Days conjures the spirit of adventure, from a time when girls weren’t expected to be daring.

It feels quintessentially Australian, and as it turns out, it is!

There is nothing overly fancy or glossy about this book, which suits the era of the protagonist’s life. As the children venture out in the bush, they are searching for and imagining a heroine back in time. That is, the book is about (and was inspired by) the Lady Bushranger Jessie Hickman, who lived from 1890-1936.

Written by Penny Harrison with illustrations by Virginia Gray, it is artwork embedded in a book designed for young readers, which gives it a definitive feel. Wild Bush Days is not just a regular story book reader for children; it feels poetic in style.

As such, it would typically suit a more advanced reader, or a child that enjoys a non-standard text. On the other hand, as it feels different from a normal storybook for children, its versatility can be used for other educational purposes. Perhaps something to try with a disinterested learner, or as a bridge from novels to poetry?

The text is simple, with many commonly used words, yet it also includes a few lesser-used, such as “prowling” or “sliver”. Printed in nice big circular font, with no more than a few sentences on each page, it is clutter-free. The black text is also carefully placed in different locations on each page, to fit in with the accompanying illustrations. Much thought has thus been given to the visual appeal of the book; it is designed for easy reading.

This is an imaginative piece for empowering girls or for those who love an adventure in Australian landscapes, particularly the outback.

Reviewed by Rebecca Wu

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Midnight Sun Publishing
Released: August 2022
RRP: $29.99

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